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Snow to sea level is expected in the South from tomorrow to Tuesday, the MetService reported in a severe weather warning yesterday.
The forecast also brought warnings from police and roading authorities for motorists to take sensible precautions on the region's roads.
While there was confusion yesterday about when snow was expected in Southland and Otago, there was a high level of confidence significant snowfalls would occur to sea level on Sunday and Monday, forecaster Mark Pascoe said.
"There is still some uncertainty about snow amounts, and to exactly how low the snow will fall," he said.
Southerlies were expected to become strong in many places and up to gale force in the east of the South Island, adding to the wind chill.
"Although temperatures will start to recover a little on Tuesday, cold showery conditions are expected right through to Thursday."
Snow showers were expected to develop on Sunday in Dunedin and continue with bitter southerlies until Tuesday with temperatures ranging from 8degC today to 6degC on Monday.
New Zealand Transport Agency Otago-Southland highways operations manager, Roger Bailey, said motorists should prepare for the worst, and it was important to check road conditions before travelling.
Contractors were on stand-by and would be "good to go" if the bad weather eventuated, he said.
Acting Southern District road policing manager, Acting Inspector Peter Muldrew said if the weather deteriorated as predicted, stay at home and only travel if absolutely necessary. Carry chains, warm clothing and blankets if you do, and be considerate of other road users.
"If you encounter difficult conditions and cannot safely continue, stop and wait for help or turn back and find accommodation," he said.